CHP warns of cargo theft ring, ask publicÆs help
Bay Area officials want the public's help to identify a suspected member of a cargo theft ring thought to be responsible for at least $150,000 'grab-and-go' heists in the area.
The team of possibly six Hispanic males targets unattended delivery trucks carrying high-value items while the driver makes deliveries at Bay Area shopping malls.
The California Highway Patrol has released surveillance video of a man about 30 to 40 years old with a shaved head who acted as a lookout for the team, following the delivery driver into a mall and relaying information to his accomplices via a cell phone.
Police said the man had been identified being present at the locations of several similar thefts.
The typical scenario involves a lookout, who provides a warning signal to a team outside. The outside team then breaks into the trucks and tosses the goods into a waiting car.
Officials for the CHP believe the team has struck as many as a dozen times in between the Bay Area and Sacramento.
The CHP said cargo thefts amount to $45 billion in loses annually throughout the state, and much is hard to trace because it is sold in bottom tier locations, such as flea markets, corner stores, or filtered through illegal distributors for resale.
So far, none of the theft ring's ill-gotten merchandise has been recovered.
CHP officials warned drivers to keep an eye on their vehicles and call authorities if they feel they are being followed.
Anyone with information about the identity of the lookout or any of the other theft ring members is encouraged to contact the CHP Cargo Theft Unit at (510) 622-4625.